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Book Summary Video Interviews with Dr. Dean Ornish on his book “The Spectrum for HealthBootcamps.
Dean Ornish, MD, is the founder and president of the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute in Sausalito, Calif. He is the clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Ornish received his medical training in internal medicine from the Baylor College of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, and the Massachusetts General Hospital. He received a BA in Humanities summa cum laude from the University of Texas in Austin, where he gave the baccalaureate address.
For more than 32 years, Ornish has directed clinical research demonstrating, for the first time, that comprehensive lifestyle changes may begin to reverse even severe coronary heart disease, without drugs or surgery. He directed the first randomized, controlled trial demonstrating that comprehensive lifestyle changes may stop or reverse the progression of early-stage prostate cancer. His research showed that comprehensive lifestyle changes affect gene expression, “turning on” disease-preventing genes and “turning off” genes that promote cancer and heart disease. In collaboration with Nobel laureate Elizabeth Blackburn, Ph.D., he also showed that these lifestyle changes can lengthen telomeres, the ends of chromosomes that control how long we live.
He is the author of six best-selling books, including New York Times bestsellers Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease; Eat More, Weigh Less; Love & Survival; and his most recent book, The Spectrum.
The research that he and his colleagues conducted has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, The Lancet, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Circulation, TheNew England Journal of Medicine, the American Journal of Cardiology, The Lancet Oncology, and elsewhere.
This is auto-generated and may have mistakes. Please listen to the interview for accuracy.
[00:01] REENA JADHAV: All right next chapter, chapter four you are unique. So what’s the essence of that?
[00:06] DR. DEAN ORNISH: Well it’s unique in the sense that some people are willing to make different degrees of lifestyle change. But one of the things that we’ve actually learned is that with all this interest in personalized medicine and so on. That it wasn’t like we found there was one diet lifestyle programs for reversing heart disease, another one for reversing prostate cancer or for getting your cholesterol, your blood pressure, your blood sugar, your genes, your telomeres, your angiogenesis it was the same for all of them and the more people followed it, the more they improve at any age. So there are individual differences some people for example can metabolize dietary sugar better than others. But as it turns out that if you’re not eating that much sugar anyway those differences don’t matter so much and so even though we like to think that our individual differences are really so much different than everyone else’s. We found that the same lifestyle changes can actually benefit almost everyone and to the degree that you make them basic corresponding benefit. Now what’s personalized in the spectrum is that you decide how much you want to change. So you say okay I’m willing to make this degree of change but not that and to whatever degree make a change there’s going to be a corresponding benefit which hopefully will then motivate you to make bigger changes; which is different than if you actually trying to reverse a life threatening condition but even there we found out that it was the same program that could reverse these other conditions. And if I was in other countries let’s look in Asia 50 years ago heart disease was ruled anarchy and most forms of cancer chronic you know colon cancer which you done with, prostate, breast cancer where it’s rare there as malaria is here that’s 50 years and they started to eat like us and live like us now die like us. But their genetics, they have a very wide diversity of genetics just like we do in this country and yet those diseases are very well limited because everybody pretty much was eating rice they were low in fat, low sugar, low in animal protein as well as they have a lot of social support. They were exercising and they had some kind of spiritual basis in their lives and so from our blues sounds work we found those kinds of commonalities you find everywhere so even though our genes, their genes were different they didn’t get expressed until they started to eat more of the western diet lifestyle. And so to the degree that people are willing to move in this direction we find is a corresponding benefit. And so I put red meat in group five, chicken in group four, fish in group three, plant based foods that are high in fat in group two and lower in fat in group one. So all of this is not you know this is a debate is low fat is that it’s all sugar. Americans eat less fat. We are fatter than ever it’s all sugar. It turns out we may have been told those things but I went to the US department of agriculture database which actually tracks the entire US food supply in every decade since 1950 we’ve been eating more fat, more sugar, more meat and more calories so it’s not surprising that we are fat and not because we are eating too little fat, we are eating too much of everything. It turns out it’s not this or that its [inaudible] is low in fat and low in refined carbs and low in animal protein. It’s mostly fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, soy products as they come in nature and the same is true for these for these other things we do. I debated Dr. Atkins a number of times before he died of heart disease its true and so what’s important is not just weight loss for one thing. What’s happened to your arteries, what’s happened health and when you go on a, you know the Atkins or I really thought that would be over after he died but then came the paleo and ketogenic diet and all these things and they just tell people what they want to hear., They tell people that bacon and sausage are health foods and they’re not. And there’s an article in internal medicine a few years ago by Stevens Smith and he said, “What actually happens in your arteries on different diets?” And on whole foods plant based diet a we are essentially clean. On the standard of American diet they partially clog on the Atkins ketogenic, paleo whatever latest iteration that is you’re severely clogged even if they lose weight, even if their cholesterol or blood pressure aren’t that different. And so it’s important that when people are assessing how they want to eat and live, that they normally look at these so called risk factors like cholesterol and blood pressure way. What’s actually happening to your health and so and that’s why in our studies we’re not just looking at risk stats. We are looking at the actual underlying disease process and we are finding that the arteries get the blocked blood flow improves after a month. After one year the arteries are less clogged. After five years there is more improvement even less blockages the same is true for the prostate cancer, the diabetes and these other conditions. The more you change, the more you improve at any age.
[04:39] REENA JADHAV: And I think its back to our culture kills. We’ve created this industry, this machine that turns out fads and diets with different names, different titles. Then invests millions of dollars. Finds doctors to propose, to support you know give the media the attention that these diets need in order to sell more of these diet. And so we are living in that sort of perpetual cycle of diet failure and again significantly and I feel like until each of us starts to pull back from that and no longer react to the new cool fad diet that’s helping so and so lose 20 pounds in two days or the usual crazy advertisements that we see, we’re just going to continue in this spiral, this downwards spiral and I think the point you’re making is we have to stop being a culture extreme and a culture fads and come down to just being in balance because I think if we just lived a normal life the way our ancestors look heck when I say ancestor I mean my grandparents.
[05:40] DR. DEAN ORNISH: You know I mean extremism is in the eye of the beholder of course. I mean some people would say that eating a whole food plant based diet is extreme. I don’t that’s the way that most of our world ate until they started you get enough.
[05:51] REENA JADHAV: When is over indulgence.
[05:53] DR. DEAN ORNISH: Yeah I mean it’s follow the money I mean if you’re a magazine right now look at the time magazine used to be the number one magazine in the world and now it’s just it’s almost on the trash bin. Okay because of this disruptions in those areas and better medical journals are no different they have something called the impact factor and the more an article is picked up in the general media the more impact it has. So like the new journal medicine and Jam are among the highest impact factor and Lancet because they publish articles that the headlines pickup and unfortunately sometimes they published studies that are really badly done just because they are provocative like fat really isn’t bad for you or meat is good for you or those kind of protein. And if you actually, I mean there was one study that came out of the British medical journal that said that look let’s take this study that saturated fat is not bad for you okay; and then actually looked at the data in two ways. One way was a so called adjust a day they would actually kind of manipulated the data. They you know if you’re eating a lot of cholesterol, they adjusted the saturated fat because they go together they kind of cancel each other out. But on the unadjusted data the raw data which is to me the most accurate because we have a work on it they actually did find the saturated fats is associated with heart disease, diabetes, prostate, breast, colon cancer etcetera all the way down the line. And that didn’t even make it to the abstract so because they knew that if they had something provocative it will be picked up for a while which was even though it is of harming people information that could really damage.
[07:19] REENA JADHAV: Yep and there was a pretty famous study that just got redacted after decades of us being right.
[07:23] DR. DEAN ORNISH: In fact that wasn’t right. The Mediterranean diet well a perfect example. In fact I wrote a letter to the editor on the press that it was published and sent another one yesterday about this new version of it and the precedent study said that the conclusion was people eating the Mediterranean diet had lower heart attacks deaths from all causes and strokes than those eating like whole low fat diet. Well it just may be able to pull out the size of my hair because the low fat diet group was they went from 39% fat to 37% percent fat hardly any change at all I mean within the range around here. It turns out that there was no difference in heart attacks, no difference in premature deaths from heart disease, no difference to previous disease to all causes. The only difference was there was a significant reduction on strokes because on the Mediterranean diet you have the more the American three fatty acids, which we’ve been having in the form of fish oil, flaxseed oil for decades and helps to keep the blood from clotting and 69% of strokes are caused by blood clots called thrombus formation. They destroy reduction in strokes but they pulled the data there. So when the hours of the data of the stroke and heart disease and other things there was a net decrease but it was all driven by the reduction in stroke and yet the headlines and even the abstract itself made it seem like the Mediterranean diet has lower rates of heart attacks and in fact they had no difference at all. And I would like to compare it to people who didn’t really make much change as opposed to people who make big changes which we found to actually reverse it in the vast majority of people.
[08:55] REENA JADHAV: Absolutely.
Dr. Dean Ornish, MD
Phone: 415-332-2525, x-229
Phone: +1 (877) 888-3091
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